Thursday, February 19, 2015

Vail Wedding Proposal - Vail Mountain Observation Deck

I hope everybody had a 'lovely' Valentine's Day last weekend. In honor of those that are lucky in love, I'm going to catch up on posting photos from some recent wedding proposals and engagement sessions. I'll start off with this very special wedding proposal on top of Vail Mountain. After a few unexpected and nail biting delays, these lovebirds made it to the top of the mountain with about 1 minute of light left in the day. Thankfully she said yes and everything worked out perfectly!  

Although we only had short amount of time left with the light, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  We captured some great photos in the gondola on our way back to Lionshead, including the last one in this series.  This is one of my favorite pics and I think I'm going to need to put it on the slideshow on the website :)

They arrived and were taking selfies on the Observation Deck.  I was pretending to be a tourist, taking in the views.

She said yes!

Click here to see more Vail Engagement Photos.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Vail Family Photographer - 10 Tips for Family Photo Sessions

A very belated happy new year to everyone!  For my first post for 2015, I wanted to talk a bit about family photo sessions.  Last year, I took some time away from weddings and focused heavily on family and children's photography.  Being that I have 2 small children, it seemed fitting to focus on families that were in a similar phase of life as me.  HOWEVER...I still hadn't truly put myself in their shoes, and let me tell was a little different than being on the other side of the camera.  

My family decided to do our first ever photo shoot at the end of the fall, courtesy of a dear friend of ours who is a master Videographer.  The poor chap is more used to filming extreme skiing and face melting concerts, so our rambunctious children were an oddity for him.  I must say that he handled everything extremely well, considering!  Thanks Satchele :)

The first thing I did after our shoot was compile a quick list of tips.  These were the first things that popped into my mind as we were walking back to the car, and I hope they help some of you out with your future sessions.

1 - Clothing choices 

There are tons of ideas for clothing color choices online.  Pinterest in particular has lots of ideas if you search for 'Family Portrait Clothing Colors'.  The combinations you'll find online will generally be based around 3 colors - 2 neutral and 1 accent color.  The combination we went with was navy, grey and white.  This is a pretty classic combination, especially in the fall, for one simple reason.  The leaves are already bright green and bright yellow, so you want a pretty neutral base when you're up against such colorful backdrops.  Secondly, we had all of our clothes already.  I would urge families not to go out and spend a lot of money on clothes unless you need to.  If we're shooting in the winter though, it's game on.  What could be more idyllic for some fun, crazy colors than a totally white, snowy background!  

2 - Food and snacks

Snacks are key for little ones.  Try to give them something to eat before hand, to help ensure they're in a cooperative mood.  Bring some snacks with you, but try to offer them only when they're needed.  Small foods definitely work best during a shoot, like crackers or raisins.  You don't want to offer your child something that's going to take a long time to eat, like an apple or even a granola bar.  You're paying for a 1 hour session.  Don't waste 30 minutes of that time eating! Also, save the really sugary snacks as a nice reward for after the session.  

Anyone with children will tell you that life works a lot easier if you have a dinner plan ready to go.  Children will be so spent after their session, and you'll probably be a little exhausted too.  A lot of my clients like to go out for dinner after a shoot because everyone's dressed up and looking their best.  Make sure you have a reservation, so that the kids aren't losing their minds.  If you're going home, grab take out or have dinner ready in advance so that everyone can just relax.  

3 - Incorporate something that's important to your family into your session.

Every family has a little something that makes them unique.  Take some time to think about what is important to your family.  If you're able to bring some props along, please do!!  I love adding things to sessions that really help to make your images unique to your family.  Cars, horses, fashion, sports teams, dancing.  Whatever you can think of, I'll attempt to capture it and I'm always open to any suggestions!  My family is a little crazy about music.  Russ and I are both self-proclaimed music dorks, so it's just natural that our kids like nothing more than rocking out.  Bringing a ukulele and a xylophone to our session seemed like a natural fit!

5 - Let it Go!

Don't panic if your kids don't feel like cooperating!!!  I can't stress this enough.  Try to put yourself in their shoes for a second.  They've been put in a fancy little outfit that's uncomfortable.  They've been told to be on their best behavior and they have no idea why.  They're in new surroundings that they're unfamiliar with and to top it off, there's a strange lady sticking a camera in their face.  

It's ok!

If your child is a little introverted, don't get mad at them.  This can have a real snowball effect, so take a deep breath and wait a few minutes.

A good photographer should be able to form a quick bond with your kids and instill some kind of trust in them.  A good photographer should also have a bag of tricks for dealing with not so happy children.  Zoom lenses work great for capturing candid photos when they think no one is watching.  I find that showing the kids some photos of themselves on my camera really helps too.  When all else fails, I have no shame in dancing around like a clown to get a kid to laugh.  

On another note, don't forget about how funny some of the outtakes can be for posterity.  Take a look at the photo above.  It's obviously not one to frame, but I love that Maxwell's ripped off his bow tie and he's giving me 'that' look.  He's not going to be 3 forever and if it makes me smile now, it'll be sure to make me laugh in years to come.  

6 - Sometimes it's ok to offer a bribe...

I know a lot of parents that are trying to get away from bribes (myself included), but it seems that a photo shoot might be that one time for an exception.  With little ones, I've seen everything from time on the iPad, Goldfish crackers or pizza used as motive to get through a shoot.  If you've got a toddler that loves cupcakes, don't be afraid to let them know there's a special treat waiting for them after their photos are done.  Lastly, don't forget about your significant other.  I knew that Russ didn't really want to do a photo shoot, but he was gracious enough to put a smile on his face and humor me by cooperating.  In return, I brought a few craft beers for him and Satchele (our kind photographer) to drink once we were done as a way of saying thank you.

7 - If you have a shot list, please bring it!

I had brunch with a group of girlfriends recently and we were all sharing stories about our experiences with photographers.  So many of the girls had nightmare stories of things that had gone wrong and a lot of them inevitably ended up with photos they weren't happy with.  

As a photographer, I have a certain style with my photos.  This is what differentiates my photos from someone else's and it's usually what draws a client to my work.  I have a certain way that I'm going to run a session, if I'm not given any other suggestions.  However, we photographers are not mind readers.  If you have something in mind that you want from your session, please tell me!  A lot of clients will email me photos in advance with ideas or styles that they're looking for.  This is such a great help and if you think of something during the shoot, please speak up!  I only have 2 eyes and my own ideas.  If you think of something that you'd like, let's try it!

8 - If you want a great shot of your kids, stand directly behind the photographer

It can be hard to get children to look directly at the camera.  If I'm shooting photos of just the children, it really helps to have the parents stand directly behind me.  Parents can jump around, make silly faces or make bunny ears behind my head!  All of these things will help even the most timid child look directly into the camera for a stunning photo.  

9 - Get some photos of just Mom and Dad

Obviously, once the family photos are done, everyone always wants awesome photos of just their kids.  After I've captured a ton of photos of the little ones, I always throw out the suggestion of getting some with just the parents.  Not surprisingly, most couples are caught off guard at the suggestion.  Clients constantly say "We haven't done this since our wedding".  When it comes time for clients to proof their photos and choose their images, they will inevitably choose one of these shots in their photo package.

10 - Enjoy your session!

I'm aware that this sounds like a fluffy, if not redundant, point to make.  There is more to this statement though.  Like any other family, Russ and I are running a pretty hectic household. Harrison is like any other 1 year old that's busy just trying to figure out how the world works.  Maxwell goes to 2 different schools and is constantly skiing, swimming or riding his bike.  Russ travels all over the country for work on a regular basis and when he's home, he can work some crazy hours.  On top of that, it's not uncommon for him to walk in the door while I'm running out the door to go to a shoot. The point is, we're constantly running in different directions.  During our photo shoot, it was a chance for our family to turn off all our phones and computers and just be with each other, running around in the woods and having fun together.  During your shoot, make sure you take the time, to take a step back and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and more than anything, the precious time you get to spend with your family!

Click here to see more Vail Family Photos